ChildForum Office of Pre-Primary Education

ChildForum Office of Pre-Primary EducationLead advisor on early childhood care and education 
National membership 

Publisher of the New Zealand-International Research in Early Childhood Journal


A short guide to doing Action Research to bring about change or improvements in your centre or ECE programme / environment

© ChildForum


researchWhat is Action Research?

On ChildForum's ECE jargon and terminology page (click here to go to the page), action research is defined as:  

A hands-on approach to research for change in a setting and/or to one's own practices, thinking and knowledge. Action research can be a collaborative endeavour or carried out by an individual.

When action research is being undertaken to bring about change in a setting, participants in the setting participate in all aspects of the research cycle involving defining what to research, gathering information, analysing, planning for further action, gathering information, critical reflection and possibly further action research cycles.

Practitioners and student teachers may engage in action research (also known as an 'enquiry') when the goal is to improve their own learning and practice.  It involves working out what to improve along with why and how you are going to gather evidence, data collection, problem solving, self-evaluation, critical review and talking about/or writing about (e.g. usually in the form of a report) what has been learnt

Action research is a primary tool to use when internally evaluating or self-reviewing an early childhood programme - it is therefore essential that educators, staff, and managers have a good understanding of what action research is and how to do it properly.  

When action research is done well the quality of teaching is usually raised, leading to better experiences and outcomes for children. 

There is considerable agreement that when teachers take an ‘inquiry stance’ there is greater use of evidence in efforts to improve teaching and learning (Cardno, 2008, NZ Research in ECE Journal, p. 89).

The focus of the article reported below is on action research undertaken by individual practitioners and students (although much of what is covered here is also relevant to an early childhood institution undertaking action research and when university researchers team up with an early childhood service to undertake a study that includes an action-research component).

In the article shown below, there is discussion of what is involved in doing action research and things to consider. The components of an action research plan are outlined. Links and references to good sources of further information are given, and there are examples of projects undertaken within early childhood settings along with a copy of a student teacher's assignment which received an excellence grade.  



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